The difference with the Audio (consumer) disc is that
there is a flag written to the disk before you buy it.
The consumer CD recorders require this flag to be
present in order to record.
The reason these discs cost more is that there is a
Tariff included in the price of the audio cd. This
was imposed by the RIAA, I believe, just as it was
done with audio DAT tape. They collect money on these
formats ASSUMING that you and I will be using this to
copy copywritten material, and they want money for
You can fake out a consumer CD recorder. This worked
on the old phillips units, your mileage may vary. The
trick involves first putting a consumer blank disc in
the recorder. The flag is read, and it thinks it is
ok to record. Then, pry the cd door open so that you
can exchange the consumer disc with a cheap blank disk
(but the cd recorder thinks the old disc is still
there). It will allow recording on the cheaper media
(if you were able to exchange the disk without it's
knowledge). Obviously this is a cumbersome process,
and it may have some shortfalls in quality.
CD recorders burn test spots on disks in order to
optimize the laser intensity appropriately for that
particular disk. Using this exchange process, the
test spots will be burned on the consumer disc, NOT
the cheap disk, so that the laser settings will not be
optimized for the cheap disk.